BURLINGTON, Mass. -- When senior goaltender Mike Guleserian emerged from the Burlington locker room after the Devils’ 1-1 tie with Winchester, a familiar face awaited.
Derek DeCastro, the backbone to the Red Devils’ back-to-back Division 1 state titles the last two seasons, shared a handshake and some words of encouragement for Guleserian whose best game of the season earned the Devils a point in a Middlesex League crossover game.
“He was such a good goaltender,” said Guleserian of DeCastro. “The biggest thing I learned from him was to remain focused and not lose your poise. I learned a lot from him and I used that tonight.”
He needed that poise when the Sachems offense woke up in the third period, firing 13 shots with Guleserian turning all aside but one.
Burlington got on the board first just 4:17 into the game when senior Shawn Bowler scored his first of the season, barreling down the left wing and firing a wrist shot that broke through the catching glove of Sachems goalie James Offner.
“I told the seniors someone was going to have to step up and get a big goal tonight,” said Burlington coach Bob Conceison. “Shawn had a nice burst and fired a nice hard shot. That was big for him and us.”
Winchester came out of the gates sluggish in both the first and second periods (just 13 combined shots), but brought the pressure in the third period and cashed in with Nolan Redler scoring shorthanded while finishing off a two-on-none breakaway feed from Brendan Greene with 4:50 left in the third period.
“We played well in the third period there was no question about that,” said Winchester coach Matt Spang. “We just need to be more consistent in our approach in what we bring to the game. That is a good team down there.”
Rendered defenseless: The Red Devils did a nice job defensively keeping the Sachems top line of Redler, Greene, and David Troiano on the perimeter and limiting their chances.
However, all it takes is one break and those Sachems snipers can strike at any time.
To wit, with Burlington clinging to a 1-0 late in the third period while on the power play, an ill-advised pinch at the blue line resulted in a two-on-none breakaway with Redler and Greene skating in alone on Guleserian. Greene held the puck just long enough before sliding a pass to Redler who beat Guleserian to the blocker side.
“Those two guys going in on a two on none are pretty good,” said Spang. “I will take that most of the time.”
Rivalry renewed: Many would point to the Division 1A semi-final game in 2009 when Burlington beat Winchester, 1-0, as the launching point of this continued rivalry.
And now, despite being in opposite divisions of the Middlesex League, the Winchester-Burlington hockey rivalry continues to grow.
There was no mention by either team of Burlington’s dramatic 2-1 shootout victory in last year’s Division 1 North final at the Tsongas Arena.
With the teams not scheduled to play again in the regular season, one can only hope they meet again in the postseason and add another chapter to a growing rivalry.